470.239.8837
Share

Personal Injury & Estate Planning Blog

Friday, March 1, 2019

Considering Online Estate Planning?

The recent proliferation of online estate planning document services has attracted many individuals to prepare their own estate documents in what appears to be a low-cost solution. However, this focus on price over value could mean your wishes will not be carried out and, unfortunately, nobody will know there is a problem until it is too late and you are no longer around to clean up the mess.

Probate, trusts and intestate succession (when someone dies without leaving a will) are governed by  laws which vary from state to state, as well as federal laws pertaining to inheritance and tax issues. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements, and failure to adhere to all of them could invalidate your estate planning documents. Many online document services offer standardized legal forms for common estate planning tools including wills, trusts or powers of attorney. However, it is impossible to draft a legal document that covers all variations from one state to another, and using a form or procedure not specifically designed to comply with the laws in your jurisdiction could invalidate the entire process.

Another risk involves the process by which the documents you purchased online are executed and witnessed or notarized. These requirements vary, and if your state’s signature and witness requirements are not followed exactly at the time the will or other documents are executed, they could be found to be invalid. Of course, this finding would only be made long after you have passed, so you cannot express your wishes or revise the documents to be in compliance.

Additionally, the online document preparation process affords you absolutely no specific advice about what is best for you and your family. An estate planning attorney can help your heirs avoid probate altogether, maximize tax savings, and arrange for seamless transfer of assets through other means, including titling property in joint tenancy or establishing “pay on death” or “transfer on death” beneficiaries for certain assets, such as bank accounts, retirement accounts or vehicles. In many states, living trusts are the recommended vehicle for transferring assets, allowing the estate to avoid probate. Trusts are also advantageous in that they protect the privacy of you and your family; they are not public records, whereas documents filed with the court in a probate proceeding can be viewed by the public. There are other factors to consider, as well, which can only be identified and addressed by an attorney; no online resource can flag all potential concerns and provide you with appropriate recommendations.

By implementing the correct plan now, you will save your loved ones time, frustration and potentially a great deal of money. In most cases, proper estate planning that is tailored to your specific situation can avoid probate altogether, and ensure the transfer of your property happens quickly and with a minimum amount of paperwork. If your estate is large, it may be subject to inheritance tax unless the proper estate planning measures are put in place. A qualified estate planning attorney can provide you with recommendations that will preserve as much of your estate as possible, so it can be distributed to your beneficiaries. And that’s something no website can deliver.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Rear End Collisions

Rear end collisions are extremely common, often resulting in serious injuries. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board reports that there are roughly 1.7 million rear-end collisions in the United States every year. Even small fender vendors end up costing drivers millions of dollars every year. Because these collisions are so common, they often result in very similar injuries and damages. The most common injuries are described below.

Back Injuries

Back injuries resulting from rear-end collisions vary widely in seriousness. They can be minor and last just days or weeks, or affect you for the rest of your life. The force of the impact of this type of collision can compress your spine, which may harm your vertebrae and discs. Disc herniation is common after a rear-end collision.

Spinal cord injuries are also relatively common. If your spine presses on the nerves in your spinal cord, it can result in pain, numbness, and even the inability to move other parts of your body.

Whiplash

Whiplash occurs when your neck is stretched to its capacity and then quickly contracted frontward and backward or from side to side. It is r the most commonly cited injury resulting  from rear-end collisions. Roughly 20 percent of the individuals involved in a rear-end collision will suffer from whiplash injury. Whiplash injuries can damage ligaments and tendons in your neck. Pain can last just a few weeks or even more than a year in severe cases.

Wrist, Finger, Hand, and Arm Injuries

Your mind and body will instinctively  try to protect you in a rear end collision. This often means  you may try to stop yourself from moving forward by placing your hands on the dashboard or seat in front of you. The force is usually too much for your body to handle, which leads to broken bones, sprains, and other injuries.

Head Injuries

In some situations, the force of the impact may lead you to hit your head on the steering wheel, dashboard, or chair in front of you. Even if the airbags deployed, you may still end up striking your head on something that can cause serious damage. A head injury often results in loss of consciousness, concussions, lacerations, bruising, and swelling. Head injuries should always be taken seriously, and you should seek medical attention as soon as you can after the accident.

Seat Belt Injuries

You should always wear your seatbelt every time you get into the vehicle, but the nature of rear-end collisions make seatbelts somewhat dangerous. The most common injuries associated with belts are bruising and lacerations, but seatbelts have been known to cause internal injuries as well.

The Takeaway

Regardless of the seriousness of your rear-end collision, it is a good idea to seek medical attention after an accident. It is not only important  for your health and safety, but it may also help your personal injury case.


Friday, February 15, 2019

The Law Office of John Q. Vaughan Has Exapanded!

2019 has just started and it has already been a busy one here at The Law Office of John Q. Vaughan! We have recently expanded the firm and opened up a new office in the Marietta Square located at 58 S Park Square Suite N, Marietta. We are very excited for this as it allows us to use our expertise to reach all new clients, as well as better serve our existing ones by becoming more centrally located. We invite all of our clients to come see how great this new location is!


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Common Personal Injury Claims

There are a number of issues that can come up in a personal injury case.  Every personal injury case will include a claim for compensatory damages, meant to compensate the plaintiff for any loss.  It is important to include all claims that apply in a lawsuit because, if one is omitted, there is no second chance to reopen the case.  Some of the most common types of compensatory damages include:

Property damage:  If personal or real property is damaged as a result of an action of the defendant, the plaintiff can include a claim for property damage.

Medical costs:  Any out of pocket medical bills should be reimbursed as part of a lawsuit.  If an insurance company paid medical bills, they may assert a right to be reimbursed out of the proceeds of any personal injury settlement.

Pain and suffering:  This is meant to address the physical, mental, and emotional anguish that comes with being the victim of an accident.  In many cases, the path to rehabilitation and recovery is difficult, painful, and frustrating.  A victim should be compensated, at least in part, for the interruption of their lives.

Permanent injury:  Often, despite the doctors’ best efforts, a patient is left with permanent pain or the loss of function of a body part after treatment is complete.  Even though it is impossible to assess the value of this monetarily, the courts will try their best to put a number on it and compensate plaintiffs accordingly.

Lost wages:  A claim for lost wages seeks to recover money for any work that was missed as a result of an injury.  The lost work may have occurred immediately after the accident, or may have accrued over a period of time, including any days missed to receive treatment.

Loss of consortium:  After a serious injury, many aspects of a victim’s life change.  If his or her ability to be intimate with a spouse is affected, a claim of loss of consortium may be included in the complaint.  It does not matter if the problem is a physical one or a psychological one.

 

Call and let us know if you have any further questions at 470-239-8837!


Monday, October 8, 2018

Common Injuries in Automobile Accidents


If you have been involved in an automobile accident, you may be seriously injured and not even realize it. At least, not immediately. Serious injury can occur even in slow or low-impact collisions, and accidents which cause no damage to the vehicle. For example, accident victims can suffer from “whiplash” in collisions involving a sudden change in vehicle speed of just 2.5 miles per hour.
Read more . . .


Monday, June 25, 2018

The Importance of UM Coverage


 

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and the other driver does not have insurance company, the best case scenario is that you carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM policies exists for this particular type of accident scenario. Your UM coverage will help you pay for expenses resulting from bodily injury, including emergency room treatment and follow-up medical care.

UM coverage is something that you pay your insurance company for to protect yourself from uninsured drivers. Unfortunately, it can still be a fight to get those benefits paid out should you ever need them.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Distracted Driving


Distracted driving has emerged as a disturbing trend that poses a serious threat not only to preoccupied drivers, but to other motorists on the roadways. Accidents caused by this unsafe practice have seen a major uptick in recent years due to the widespread use of smart phones to text and post to social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, while driving. Although drivers of all ages may be guilty of driving while distracted, studies have found that teenage drivers are especially tempted to use their phone to snap photos or text from the driver's seat.

Personal injury lawsuits on the basis of distracted driving are becoming more prevalent. A wrongful-death suit against taxi-alternative company Uber cites distracted driving as the cause of a collision that killed a 6-year-old girl and injured her mother and brother while they were crossing the street on New Year's Eve in California.
Read more . . .


Monday, May 14, 2018

Beware of “Simple” Estate Plans

“I just need a simple will.”  It’s a phrase estate planning attorneys hear practically every other day.   From the client’s perspective, there’s no reason to do anything complicated, especially if it might lead to higher legal fees.  Unfortunately, what may appear to be a “simple” estate is all too often rife with complications that, if not addressed during the planning process, can create a nightmare for you and your heirs at some point in the future.   Such complications may include:

Probate - Probate is the court process whereby property is transferred after death to individuals named in a will or specified by law if there is no will. Probate can be expensive, public and time consuming.  A revocable living trust is a great alternative that allows your estate to be managed more efficiently, at a lower cost and with more privacy than probating a will.  A living trust can be more expensive to establish, but will avoid a complex probate proceeding. Even in states where probate is relatively simple, you may wish to set up a living trust to hold out of state property or for other reasons.

Minor Children - If you have minor children, you not only need to nominate a guardian, but you also need to set up a trust to hold property for those children. If both parents pass away, and the child does not have a trust, the child’s inheritance could be held by the court until he or she turns 18, at which time the entire inheritance may be given to the child. By setting up a trust, which doesn’t have to come into existence until you pass away, you are ensuring that any money left to your child can be used for educational and living expenses and can be administered by someone you trust.  You can also protect the inheritance you leave your beneficiaries from a future divorce as well as creditors.

Second Marriages - Couples in which one or both of the spouses have children from a prior relationship should carefully consider whether a “simple” will is adequate. All too often, spouses execute simple wills in which they leave everything to each other, and then divide the property among their children. After the first spouse passes away, the second spouse inherits everything. That spouse may later get remarried and leave everything he or she received to the new spouse or to his or her own children, thereby depriving the former spouse’s children of any inheritance.  Couples in such situations should establish a special marital trust to ensure children of both spouses will be provided for.

Taxes - Although 2016, federal estate taxes only apply to estates over $5.45 million for individuals and $10.9 million for couples, that doesn’t mean that anyone with an estate under that amount should forget about tax planning. Many states still impose a state estate tax that should be planned around. 

Incapacity Planning – Estate planning is not only about death planning.  What happens if you become disabled?  You need to have proper documents to enable someone you trust to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated.  There are a myriad of options that you need to be aware of when authorizing someone to make decisions on your behalf, whether for your medical care or your financial affairs.  If you don’t establish these important documents while you have capacity, your loved ones may have to go through an expensive and time-consuming guardianship or conservatorship proceeding to petition a judge to allow him or her to make decisions on your behalf.  

By failing to properly address potential obstacles, over the long term, a “simple” will can turn out to be incredibly costly.   An experienced estate planning attorney can provide valuable insight and offer effective mechanisms to ensure your wishes are carried out in the most efficient manner possible while providing protection and comfort for you and your loved ones for years to come.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

3 Steps to Follow When You Are Injured or in an Accident

3 Steps to Follow When You Are Injured or in an Accident

The legal process involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit may deter some people from seeking damages regardless of the severity of their injury, but, having an idea of what you can expect at each stage of the process can help you determine if legal action is the appropriate route to take in your particular situation. An experienced personal injury attorney can counsel you as your case develops, and fight for your rights in the courtroom if necessary in order to achieve the outcome that's most favorable to you.

Regardless of how you were injured, there are certain steps that everyone who is in an accident or has been injured in some other way should take if they think they may have a personal injury lawsuit. The tips below provide an outline of what to keep in mind in the days, weeks and even months following your injury to ensure your potential personal injury claim is on solid legal ground.

A variety of situations can lead to injury, such as a slip/trip and fall, a car accident, a defective product, or a dog bite, among many others things. Following the suggestions below can help protect your right to file a claim for your injury in the near future, and will likely allow the filing process to run more smoothly than if you don't take these early preparations.

Put everything in writing.

Take notes on all the details of your injury. These don't have to be formal statements, just jotting down everything you can remember about the circumstances immediately before, during and after your injury can be a big help when it comes to filing your claim and jogging your memory. This sort of anticipatory preparation could mean the difference between your claim being invalid and you collecting all of the benefits to which you are entitled. It's even important to write down the conversations you had with others who may have been involved in the accident or injury claim, even if they were just a witness. Make sure that your physician or the hospital you visit for your injury notes the circumstances surrounding your injury in their records.

Take photographs.

If possible, take pictures of your injuries and the scene of the accident as soon as you can following an accident or injury. Focus on any visible cuts, bruises, burns, swelling or other marks on your body. Don't just take one picture, make sure you capture the injury and the scene from a variety of angles. This approach will hopefully result in some detailed pictures you can later present to the insurance company as evidence supporting your claim.

Obtain copies of your medical records.

Medical records can be an integral part of your claim, and have the power to make or break your case. Whether your medical records just serve to help you seek medical treatment from a specialist or if you need them to support your claim that your injuries were in fact caused by this accident and not a pre-existing condition, it's important to contact your physician and get copies of all records that may be pertinent to your case.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Avoiding Pitfalls In Estate Planning

Preparing for the future is an uncertain business, but there are steps you can take during your lifetime to simplify matters for your loved ones after you pass, and to ensure your final wishes are carried out. Planning for what happens to your property, or who cares for your family members, upon your death can be a complicated process. To simplify things, the following list can help you create your estate plan.

 

  • Don’t assume you can plan your estate by yourself. Get help from an estate planning attorney whose training and experience can ensure that you minimize tax implications and simplify the process of settling your estate.
  • Don’t put off your estate planning needs because of finances. To be sure, there are upfront costs for establishing the estate plan; however establishing your estate plan is an investment in the future well-being of your family, and one which will result in a far greater cash savings over the long term.
  • Don’t make changes to your estate plan without consulting your attorney. Changes in one area of your estate plan could impact other provisions you have made, triggering unintended legal or tax implications.
  • Don’t assume your children will intuitively know your wishes, and handle the situation appropriately upon your death. Money and sentimental items can cause a rift between even the most agreeable siblings, and they will be especially vulnerable as they deal with the emotional impact of your passing.
  • Don’t assume that once you’ve prepared your estate plan it is set in stone. Estate planning documents regularly need to be revised, often due to a change in marital status, birth or death of a family member, or a significant change in the value of your estate. Beneficiary designations should be periodically reviewed to ensure they are up to date.
  • Don’t forget to notify your family members, friends or other beneficiaries of your estate plan. Make sure your executor and successor trustee have access to your end-of-life documents.
  • Don’t assume your spouse will handle everything if something happens to you. It’s possible your spouse may be incapacitated at the same time, for example if you both are injured in the same accident. A proper estate plan appoints alternate representatives to handle your affairs if both you and your spouse are unable to do so.
  • Don’t use the same person as your agent under both the financial and healthcare powers of attorney. Using the same individual gives that person an incredible amount of influence over your future and it may be a good idea to split up the decision-making authority.
  • Don’t forget to name alternate agents, executors or successor trustees. You may name a family member to fill one of these roles, and forget to revise the document if that person dies or becomes incapacitated. By adding alternates, you ensure there is no question regarding who has the authority to act on your or the estate’s behalf.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help You?


 

If you have been injured in an accident, the consequences can be long lasting. In addition to pain and suffering and medical expenses, you may be unable to work or provide for yourself and your family.

That's the bad news. The good news is that you may be entitled to meaningful compensation if the accident was the result of the negligent or reckless conduct of another person.

In order to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit, however, it is crucial to engage the services of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Read more . . .


← Newer12 Older →



© 2019 Law Offices of John Q Vaughan | Disclaimer
2450 Atlanta Hwy., Suite 1802, Cumming, GA 30040
| Phone: 470.239.8837

Personal Injury | Estate Planning | | About | Our Legal Team

Law Firm Website Design by
Amicus Creative